Connections with Coleridge #3.5—A Speculative Detour

So, I’ve written this whole series in advance and scheduled it to post weekly. I usually do that with these blog series so I don’t panic about deadlines. But then, I often tweak them before they go live, so there is an element of freshness, too. I was working on the most recent post, trying to include some examples of how specific subjects fit into Coleridge’s concept of Law and Theory being the two kinds of relationships, when I started to notice something.

The chapter is called “Principles of the Science of Method.”

Coleridge says

We discover, that there is a Science of Method; and that that Science, like all others, must necessarily have its Principles.

And as I quoted before:

The relations of things form the prime objects, or, so to speak, the materials of Method.

Under the heading of Law, Coleridge tells us we find the “Pure Sciences” which also form the groundwork of the “Mixed Sciences.” Under the heading of Theory, we find the “Scientific Arts” (like medicine). In fact, after a while, it hurts my eyes to read all the words with Capital Letters.

But then, I noticed something. In addition to equating Method with relations, Coleridge uses the word Science a lot. And a light bulb with a question mark appeared over my head. (I’m pretty sure.) I started to wonder…

Relations. Science. Science of Relations?

I have read every word of the CM series over and over again, and I have never found a place where Charlotte Mason explains why she uses the word science in her principle “education is the science of relations.” She explains relations at length, but science not at all. I gave up long ago, and figured that science was just a Victorian buzzword that she used to call attention to the importance of relations.

But perhaps not? Maybe Coleridge and his Capital Letters so impressed the idea of a Science on her mind while she was reading about the relations of Method that she associated the two words in her own mind, and so the expression “science of relations” might have its roots here in Treatise on Method. Surely it’s possible? The idea itself, certainly, originated here, and Charlotte Mason made that fairly clear with her quotes and references to this work. But the expression “science of relations?” Did that also originate here?

We’ll never be able to say so definitely, because she didn’t say so, and I don’t think I encountered the exact phrase “Science of Relations” in this book. But maybe. Maybe. It’s not a huge leap to change “science of method” to “science of relations” when you’ve already defined method as relations.  It was an interesting speculation, and I thought I’d share it with readers of this series as a sort of “thinking-out-loud” bonus post.

I hope this little detour won’t break the train of thought linking one post to the next, and I hope you’re enjoying Coleridge-the-philosopher, and that the next time you read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” you’ll remember him for more than just that poem. In the meantime, Coleridge, Coleridge everywhere.

3 thoughts on “Connections with Coleridge #3.5—A Speculative Detour

  1. I love that connection you made! I’ve also read (probably from you? Or maybe Brandy?) about the contrast that the word “science” makes when in the same sentence as “relation” – on one hand, “science” was a buzz word at the time, but when we see the word it definitely conjures up more of a “cold” and academic feeling. The word “relations” sounds more warm and fuzzy! I am loving this series and your book! Just finished chapter 4!

  2. I was just reading the part, early on in ‘In Vital Harmony’, where you touch upon the term ‘science’ as in ‘science of relations’ so this ties in beautifully!

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